Surprise! Another Green Energy Hurts the Environment

A green energy source is finally being held accountable for killing endangered animals.

We have already posted more than once about how Ethanol is an energy and environmental disaster. But the most recent news about a “green” energy source comes from the Obama Administration itself. They are admitting that the energy they have encouraged is problematic because they are prosecuting energy companies for alleged crimes.

In this case, the energy source is wind farms. The Daily Caller reports, “Obama Administration Charges Second Wind Power Producer for Killing Birds.”

For just the second time in nearly six years, the Obama administration has prosecuted a power company for the deaths of federally protected birds from wind turbines, which kill hundreds of thousands of birds every year.

PacifiCorp Energy plead guilty on Friday to the deaths of 336 birds, including 28 golden eagles, at two wind turbine farms in Wyoming since 2009. The energy company agreed to pay $2.5 million in fines, including $1.9 million dollars to go toward eagle conservation and wind farm mitigation efforts.

This is the second company to be prosecuted for killing birds while generating wind power. In November 2013, Duke Energy agreed to pay $1 million in fines for the deaths of 160 birds — 14 golden eagles — at two wind farms in Wyoming.

Prior to Duke, the Obama administration had never charged wind power producers with killing birds. Until 2013, only fossil fuel companies and utilities had been charged with killing birds.

Weirdly this is one of the few cases in which environmentalist advocates and conservative activists worked together to convince the Obama Administration to treat all energy companies as equal before the law. At first, the Obama Administration was acting as if wind farming was somehow above reproach for doing the same things that got other companies prosecuted.

Experts say wind turbines can kill up to 557,000 birds per year and 888,000 bats. From 2009 to April 2013, the Obama administration handled 200 cases involving federally protected bird deaths, but none of them involved wind farms.

Environmentalists and conservatives have been critical of the Obama administration’s failure to prosecute bird deaths. Some argued the inaction against wind turbine operators for hundreds of thousands of bird deaths every year was an implicit subsidy to the wind industry.

So, far from the simple story of “good energy” (renewable) and “evil energy” (coal and oil), there are tradeoffs involved in all energy.

The real question is: Who should be making these choices—consumers or bureaucrats and lobbied legislators?